Hamilton High School special-needs student inspires with performance on the basketball court

Rob Fukuzaki Image
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
SoCal special-needs student inspires others on basketball court
Hamilton High School senior Kayley Suen has become an inspiration to others by her performance on the basketball court.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An 18-year-old athlete has become a true inspiration after her love for basketball helped her beat the odds.

Kayley Suen, a senior at Hamilton High School, plays for the girls basketball team. During last week's senior night, Kayley - who has special needs - was the only senior. Of course, a big celebration followed.

Six years ago, the teen was simply looking for an outlet. She attended a basketball clinic when she was just 12 years old. At the time, Kayley didn't know how to dribble, shoot or pass a ball, according to her dad, Craig Suen.

Most coaches didn't know what to do with Kayley, but Hamilton High School's Girls Varsity Basketball Coach Sherland Chensam did.

"She has always been a very hard worker," she said. "She's very dedicated. She's very committed to the game. Her passion runs through her veins."

Kayley's father said Coach Sherland played a major role when it came to Kayley learning the sport.

"Coach Sherland has been instrumental to her development and her love of basketball and getting as far as she has," he said. "We owe a lot to her because who knows? Maybe if she wasn't around, [Kayley] would've just ended basketball."

Sherland essentially took Kayley under her wing and stuck by her - right from the start. She's the reason the teen attended Hamilton High School.

"There's a lot of people [who] look at her and thought that, you know, she wasn't good for the game," said Chensam. "I just kept believing in her."

After that last junior varsity game, Kayley was showered with love, celebrated with gifts, personalized posters and even a crown and sash.

"It was Kayley's night. She was the only senior on senior night. I've been here 8 years and I've never had a senior night show like the Kayley show. The gym was packed," said Coach Sherland. "My only wish for her is to just keep believing, keep growing, keep wanting."

Kayley has since been elevated to the varsity squad where she will finish the remainder of her senior year under Coach Sherland, who has been the MVP in Kayley's life.